Father Liam Doyle died peacefully in Naas Hospital on June 2, 2009. He was among the most senior members of St Patrick’s Missionary Society having entered in 1943, within eleven years of the Society’s foundation. A native of Edenderry, Co Offaly, Ireland, he received his secondary education in St Mary’s College, Knockbeg, Co Carlow and his training for the missionary priesthood in Kiltegan. He was ordained in Killamoat church on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950 by the retired Vicar Apostolic of Zanzibar, Bishop John W Heffernan CSSp.
Because he was a gifted student, Liam was chosen to do post-graduate studies in Louvain, Belgium. He was required to do a one-year bachelor’s degree in preparation and this was as far as he got. The Society had been asked by the Holy See to take over a large portion of “the white highlands” of Kenya which was up to then the responsibility of the Mill Hill Fathers. Liam was withdrawn from Louvain to join the pioneering team of five Kiltegan priests that arrived in Kenya in January, 1952. He was stationed in the picturesque colonial town of Kitale to assist the Mill Hill priest who would remain on for some months. Later, he taught in the recently-established St Joseph’s Teacher Training College and, afterwards, served as Father-in-charge of Kiminini.
In 1955, Liam was withdrawn from Kenya to take charge of the Society’s house in Douglas, Cork which had just been extended to accommodate philosophy students, alongside the university students who were already residing there. Liam was a distinguished Rector and teacher of Philosophy. His was a benign and encouraging presence. He expected the students to behave responsibly and trusted them to do so. He did all in his power to expand their horizons inviting those interested to share in his hobbies of photography, gardening and music. He arranged for them to attend cultural events such as the occasional classical concert in the City Hall. Apart from the embarrassment of occasionally seeing one of his charges striding up the concert hall with bicycle clips in place and the pump protruding from a pocket this was largely a successful venture.
After seven years in Cork, Liam was elected as delegate to the 1962 Chapter which introduced the office of Regional Superior to the Society. Liam was chosen to be the first Regional Superior of East Africa. It turned out to be a challenging task. A crisis of authority was coming to a head in Eldoret Diocese and it fell to Liam to deal with the fallout at local level and to brief the Society headquarters in Ireland on the situation. He acquitted himself well always remaining calm but firm and painstakingly seeking the truth at all times.
In 1970, Liam went back into parish ministry serving in the tea and sugar producing area of Nandi Hills. In 1981, he was appointed to promotion work in the USA and served, for a time, as Society Superior. After major heart surgery he returned to Ireland in 1990 and ministered as a curate in Clara parish in his native county of Offaly for 10 years. In 2000, he was appointed to the Society Promotion House in East Molesey, England, where he became known for the warm welcome he extended to all-comers. While there, he got an opportunity to renew friendships with Goan and Seychellois people whom he had been close to in Kenya and who had moved to the UK in the meantime. In 2004, he retired first to the Society house in Cork and then to Kiltegan. In spite of failing health, he kept a lively interest in everyone and everything; he attended to his lifelong hobbies and developed new ones; he was kind and pleasant to all and looked back on his long life with great peace and gratitude to God.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan